Kyoto, on the Japanese island of Honshu, has been a hub of religious activity and political power since the eighth century. It was once the capital of Japan and retains many of the temples and palaces built within this period. Step back in time to imperial Japan as you explore the city’s many World Heritage Sites such as the Kiyomizu Temple. Kyoto is also renowned for its landscaped gardens, many of which are based on designs dating back hundreds of years.

The wealth of cultural history in Kyoto can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start. Take the Philosopher’s Walk to orient yourself around some of Kyoto’s historic sights, such as the Eikando Temple. The walk takes in three major temples as well as several smaller temples and shrines, boutique shopping areas and restaurants where you can sample the traditional Japanese multicourse dinner, kaiseki. Cherry blossoms line the walk during spring, and in the fall, the area comes alive with the brilliant reds of maple trees.

Central Kyoto offers a combination of modern and traditional delights. Ride up the Kyoto Tower for a 360-degree view over the city from 330 feet (100 meters) up. Explore the Nishiki Market, lined with restaurants, and fresh produce and street food stalls. See giant salamanders and local river fish at the Kyoto Aquarium.

At one of the regular festivals held in the city, taste some of the food brought to Kyoto from all over Japan to please the Emperor, watch traditional crafts being made, take a lesson in saké brewing and experience the culture of Japan.

Lovers of Japanese literature will enjoy the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa, built to resemble the fictional setting of the 11th-century novel The Tale of Genji.

Tourism is a large part of Kyoto’s economy and there are some unique attractions such as hand feeding wild snow monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park. Kyoto has a welcoming atmosphere, incredible natural beauty and layered history.

Known for

Temples, Culture and Gardens

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Where to stay in Kyoto

Central Kyoto
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Central Kyoto

Temples, Castles, Flowers

Central Kyoto is a welcoming neighborhood. The neighborhood's festivals and rich culture are just a couple of its charming qualities. Other highlights include the local temples and historic landmarks, as well as the natural splendor of the gardens.

Gion
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Gion

Temples, Culture, Flowers

Experience a traditional tea ceremony or a night of cultural entertainment within the historic wooden teahouses of this well-preserved Kyoto district.

Arashiyama
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Arashiyama

Temples, Rivers, Culture

Arashiyama is a neighborhood that welcomes all visitors. The neighborhood's charm comes through with its rich culture. Many visitors come to enjoy the natural beauty of the riverfront.

Shijo
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Shijo

Festivals, Culture, Budget

Shijo is a welcoming, walkable neighborhood with convenient options for coffeehouses. The neighborhood's festivals and rich culture are just a couple of its charming qualities. Broaden your horizons with the local temples.

Karasuma
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Karasuma

Festivals, Culture, Temples

Karasuma is a welcoming, walkable neighborhood with convenient options for cafés and restaurants. The neighborhood's architecture, festivals, and rich culture are just some of its charming qualities. For a taste of the local culture, you can check out the temples and museums.

Sanjo
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Sanjo

Flowers, Temples, Culture

Sanjo is a welcoming, walkable neighborhood. The neighborhood has many charming qualities, its rich culture among the more noteworthy. Take in the natural beauty of the gardens and riverfront—or broaden your horizons with the local temples and shopping.

Top Hotels in Kyoto

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
4 out of 5
1 Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, Kyoto
¥8,889/night
Jul 30 - Jul 31
4.4/5Excellent! (2,794 reviews)

"Nice property, closer to the main train station. Not a lot of eating options outside of the hotel, need to taxi to other areas, and the restaurants at the hotel are very expensive"…"

Reviewed on Jul 21, 2019

RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
Image for Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
4 out of 5
15 Nishi-Iwamotocho, Higashi-kujo, Kyoto
¥8,750/night
Aug 4 - Aug 5
4.7/5Exceptional! (617 reviews)

"Close to shinkansen and staff are all on point always try to help speak very limited english but always knows whats going on :)"…"

Reviewed on Jul 21, 2019

Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
Image for Hotel Vischio Kyoto by GRANVIA 
Hotel Vischio Kyoto by GRANVIA 
4 out of 5
44-1, Kamitonodacho, Higashikujo, Kyoto
¥12,593/night
Aug 5 - Aug 6
4.7/5Exceptional! (30 reviews)

"Wish we were given rooms little earlier. Hotel has great location."…"

Reviewed on Jul 19, 2019

Hotel Vischio Kyoto by GRANVIA 

Popular things to do in Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple
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Photo provided by JNTO

Kiyomizu Temple

Constructed entirely without nails and built on high poles, this temple is part of a World Heritage Site and offers visitors both beauty and history.

Kyoto Imperial Palace
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Kyoto Imperial Palace

Learn more about the local history when you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, a well-known historical site in Kyoto. Discover the top-notch restaurants and fascinating museums in this culturally-rich area.

Nijō Castle
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Nijō Castle

Visit the world of the wealthy and powerful shogun, in this opulent 17th-century castle complex.

Kyoto Tower
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Photo provided by City of Kyoto and Kyoto Tourism Council

Kyoto Tower

In a city known for its temples and other ancient relics, this observation point catches the eye as an example of 20th-century innovation.

Fushimi Inari Shrine
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Fushimi Inari Shrine

This shrine at the base of Inari Mountain is dedicated to the goddess of rice and prosperity. See its thousands of red gates around a network of beautiful trails.

Toji Temple
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Toji Temple

The To-ji Temple is one of the preeminent traditional sites in Kyoto, with exquisite structures, a flea market and the tallest pagoda in the country.

Top activities in Kyoto

Kyoto Perfect Tour: 1day bus tour
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Kyoto Perfect Tour: 1day bus tour

¥14,000

Discover the 3 World Heritage listed sites (Kiyomizu temple, Tenrryuji temple and Kinkakuji Temple) in Kyoto. Besides, we will visit 2 popular spots: Fushimi Inari Shrine and bamboo forest in Sagano. Please be intoxicated magnificent Japanese historical places.

Kyoto & Nara 1-Day Tour
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Kyoto & Nara 1-Day Tour

¥15,600

Explore the must-see sights of history-rich Kyoto, including the spectacular Nijo Castle, eminent Kinkaku-ji, and grand Kyoto Imperial Palace. In the afternoon, embark for Nara, home of pacific Nara Park and the famous temple of Todai-ji.

Full-Day Kyoto City Tour
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Full-Day Kyoto City Tour

¥18,515

Visit Kyoto, one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, on this tour from Osaka. View ancient relics of culture like Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Heian Jingu Shrine, as well as Sanjusangendo and Kiyomizu-dera temples.

Private Japanese Small Katana Forging Experience
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Private Japanese Small Katana Forging Experience

¥15,776

Forge your very own Japanese kogatana (small blade) with an artisan swordsmith. Learn about the traditional blade-forging process, which uses the same materials and techniques as a full-size katana. At the end of the experience, take the beautiful product of your creation home with you.

Private Full-Day Kyoto Tour via Taxi
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Private Full-Day Kyoto Tour via Taxi

¥9,715

The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto is full of cultural treasures to discover. Spend a day being chauffeured to the city's most remarkable highlights in a private taxi, getting the chance to see places like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkaku-ji, Sanjusangendo, and Kiyomizu-dera.

Small-Group Kyoto Cycling Tour
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Small-Group Kyoto Cycling Tour

¥7,813

Climb on a bike and set off to discover the cultural and historical heart of Kyoto. Cycle down historic streets and by scenic waterways as you discover the city’s most famous and impressive shrines and temples.

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